Going too far in travel advertising ? A micro-study…

To begin this piece, I must mention the recent ad campaign that Spirit Airlines launched over the use of the Anthony Weiner. If you have not seen it, go to http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/06/08/spirit-airlines-spoofs-weiner-scandal-in-new-ad-1211051249/

What do you think? A very interesting angle used by Spirit. An airline that seems to be known for it’s media splashes (see $1.00 fares from LA to Vegas), Spirit Airlines has done it again. For a few years now, Spirit Airlines has built a reputation for pushing boundaries in advertising. But have they gone too far this time?

By branding themselves as an airline that uses current events to promote it’s services, Spirit reminds companies that targeting an event is risky business. While web traffic will definitely rise, it is influx of revenue that needs to be carefully calculated in advance. Keep one eye on the suggestive and entertaining ads to follow and think about if the buzz could lead you to purchasing travel related services.

Spirit Airlines: Buzzing from L.A. to Vegas for a Buck

The airlines have discovered a nifty way to really get the attention of consumers and competitors. Just yesterday, Spirit Airlines announced service from Los Angeles International (LAX) to Las Vegas McCarron (LAS) with introductory one-way fares of just $1.00 per seat, plus applicable taxes. While this bargain fare is heavily restricted to travel on certain days and flights, it is creating quite a buzz.

Spirit Airlines is one of few airlines that focus on leisure travel. By this, I mean they fly to very leisure oriented destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Atlantic City. They have also been part of the pioneering group of airlines that started charging for everything from pillows to advance seating assignments. So why has Spirit Airlines not already targeted LAX to Vegas? So many competitors – both low cost and legacy carriers – already serve the market. They needed a bold way to introduce their brand and get attention in order to make the five daily flights a success.

The industry impact has been interesting. Some airlines like jetBlue and Allegiant Air did engage in a “fare war” while much larger Delta Air Lines and United Airlines did not. My guess is that much of the passenger traffic on Delta and United is connecting through LAX and therefore they feel the discounted fares would not help to gain market share.

While the $1.00 fare seems ridiculous, it is a proven sales tactic that generates traffic to Spirit’s website, talk in the industry, and gets the seats filled.